Part 1: Lesson Description
Internet Searches: Selecting appropriate sources
Learners use the internet to collect information for school or daily life. Search engines can produce an excessive number of potential sources, even when filtering the search. This lesson will teach the adult learner a stepwise approach to defining key words, specifying criteria, and evaluating the appropriateness of sources. The learner will develop a customized checklist for the search and demonstrate the acquired knowledge of selecting appropriate sources.
Learner Audience / Primary Users
Learners are adults who are upgrading skills in order to complete the GED. They have not previously received any formalized training in evaluating sources or completing internet searches.
- Curriculum / Instruction
College & Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) Alignment
- Level: Adult Education
- Grade Level: E
- Subject: English Language Arts / Literacy
- Domain or Strand: Reading strand
- Sub-strand:Reading of Scientific and Technical text
- Standard Description: RST.11-12.2 “Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.”
- Instructional Material
The purpose of this lesson is for learners to be able to:
- Use critical thinking skills and a structured plan to evaluate sources
- Select the most appropriate sources based on topic, scope, and timeframe parameters created by the learner
Educators are attempting to "hone critical thinking skills to distinguish hope from hype". 
- Designers for Learning
- Adult Education
- Internet searches
- Selecting sources
Time Required for Lesson
Learners should have a basic understanding of using a computer and accessing the internet. They should understand the meaning of synonym, be able to navigate to a specific website, and open a PDF document.
The learner will require access to the internet through a computer or tablet.
Lesson Author & License
- Lesson Author: Amanda Weber
- License: Creative Commons License; Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license
Part 2: Lesson
By the end of this lesson, the learner should be able to:
- Brainstorm five keywords, synonyms, or phrases required to complete an internet search
- Define parameters related to topic, scope, and timeframe
- Complete a customized checklist to use during the internet search
- Demonstrate selection of three appropriate sources using critical thinking skills
Key topics covered in this lesson include:
- Research skills in science and social studies
- Internet search skills
- Evaluating the quality of sources
Many adult learners have not received formal instruction in computers and using the internet to access information. They may have last been in school before computers were an essential part of the classroom. Any technology learning they have completed has likely been out of necessity and used a trial-and-error approach. They may have the basic idea of how to complete an internet search on a particular topic, but are unaware of how to select appropriate sources by evaluating parameters.
This lesson would be used in a small classroom setting with an instructor present. It is a hybrid module, and so each learner will require access to a computer. The maximum number of learners is 8 for each instructor.
Relevance to Practice
Adult learners need to access quality information in order to complete assignments which may be required as part of their upgrading program. It is necessary to separate potential sources of evidence into one of two categories, either a potential source or an inappropriate source. A structured approach will help them to define the parameters required for a potential source to be considered for inclusion into the research material. The skills of evaluating and critiquing evidence can be applied to other, more practical areas in life, including the ability to discern reputable information and websites and not believing everything one may see on the internet.
Key Terms and Concepts
Abstract: A summary paragraph of the important findings identified by research.
Application: The usage of data or information for a particular purpose.
Evidence: Material or information which proves theories or assertions.
Source: The information medium (book, article, website) providing the required information.
Study: A scientific or technical document which outlines the method and results obtained by researchers.
Synonym: A word which has a similar meaning.
Instructional Strategies and Activities
Time: 3 minutes
The instructor will share a personal story of an internet search where thousands of search results made the instructor frustrated. Learners will be encouraged to share their own brief stories.
Time: 5 minutes
The instructor will describe using a search engine to complete research on a health or wellness topic. The instructor will ask the learners to define the key terms, and provide correction or examples as needed.
The instructor will explain the format of the lesson:
- Learners will watch a brief presentation (on Prezi or PowerPoint).
- Learners will develop a checklist using a PDF file.
- Learners will perform an independent internet search and complete the checklist.
Presentation / Modeling / Demonstration
Time: 8 minutes
- Learners will access the Prezi or PowerPoint presentation using the computer. The presentation will demonstrate using a checklist to specify criteria required for sources obtained using an internet search.
- Instructor will provide an opportunity to answer questions individually or as a group.
Time: 10 minutes
- Learners will open a PDF copy of the checklist.
- Learners will be assigned one topic and will brainstorm keywords and synonyms as a group. Suggested topics are “assisted suicide in Canada”, “meldonium use in sports”, and “dangers of Zika virus to pregnant women”.
- Learners will access the Google search engine and use the checklist to narrow down potential sources. The instructor will be available to guide learners as needed.
- Learners will document the three sources on the checklist. The checklists will be printed or reviewed on-screen by the instructor.
Time: 3 minutes
Instructor will provide feedback as a group discussion.
As a homework assignment, the learners will pick a topic of their choice and complete the checklist and internet search. They will provide five keywords and three sources considered appropriate for their research. Completed PDFs will be emailed to the instructor or uploaded onto the learning management system for evaluation.
Part 3: Supplementary Resources and References
This module requires you to select one of two different formats of a presentation and a PDF template.
EngageNY Grade 11 ELA Module 3, New York State Education Department CC BY-NC-SA
Teaching Channel, CC BY-NC-SA
readwritethink, CC BY-NC-SA
Internet Searches: Selecting appropriate sources by Amanda Weber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.